Monday, 3 May 2010

Weapon of Choice

So, May started off the way any birthday month should start - the purchase of a new ride! I've spent the past year researching what full suss' bike to get. I looked at the Yeti 575, a couple of Treks, the Blur.... all sensible XC bikes that would serve my purposes adequately. However I'd always get drawn back to the Santa Cruz Nomad. Something about it made me want to ride it. The raking head angle, burly frame and graceful geometry arcs just look great. I've tried to justify the choice to myself and others by saying things like "the 6 inch travel will give me confidence to ride harder and faster.. blah de blah" but the simple truth is, I think it's one hell of a sexy looking piece of hardware. And I wanted it.

I picked it up from the Family Cycle Centre in Santa Cruz. A very nice, and knowledgeable bunch of folks. I chose the X9 build kit with a couple of upgrades. I flirted with the idea of the new carbon frame, but decided to rein in my spending. The SRAM X9 build on the aluminium frame isn't exactly featherweight, but I'm used to heaving my cromo steel Orange up slopes so I figured it'd be ok. I went for a Chris King headset and the Fox DHX 5.0 air shock. I also chose the Lyric solo air fork option. Powdercoat black. Crank Brothers Acid pedals and, to top it all off, a Gravity Dropper Classic seatpost.

The Nomad's maiden ride was to be at China Camp state park in Marin. A favourite playground of mine full of nice, sweeping single track and some decent, rutted downhill. There's also a cheeky selection of near vertical drops next to the rocket launch pad to test your mettle kung fu (which we did - all of them - with the Nomad barely hitting the full 6 inches of it's silky smooth compression.)

It's going to take me a while to dial the Nomad in. I need to get used to the feel of full suspension and longer travel before I can tune it to perfection. But I'm totally smitten. Racing down twisty-turny singletrack, is a dream like waltz. Every subtle shift is transmitted through the geometry allowing for tiny balance corrections to be dialed back in. However, when things get sketchy, you can use the Nomad's as a brutal, blunt instrument to carve through and sort it itself out to safety. Both these qualities instill an enormous sense of confidence both in the bike and the trail. I've never ridden as well or with as much enjoyment as I did the first time I took this elegant brute out. Roll on the weekend!

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